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Review: The Monster at the End of This Book (iPad)

As a parent of two young boys, I was excited – very, very excited – when Callaway Digital Arts introduced their version of the popular The Monster at the End of This Book. It’s one of our family favorites, just as I am sure it’s a family favorite in many houses. Fortunately, at the introductory $0.99 price point, your money is well spent (though it took a while to make that discovery).

Read on to discover what I learned and why it took me so long to write what should have been a quick review.

Imagine this scene: The Mom calls to the boys:

“Hey boys, guess what? Your Dad just got a new e-book, The Monster at the End of This Book!”

“Let’s read it!” they scream.

They get set up on the couch, and the Mom lets the 3-year-old press the magic icon to launch the app. From across the room I immensely enjoy hearing Grover’s actual voice read the title, the author’s and illustrator’s name – the “…very boring page” as the story begins. My first impression is heartwarming as the words are highlighted (somewhat out of sync with Grover’s voice), and we all ignore the delay (up to 2 to 3 seconds) of turning pages to a blank page while awaiting Grover’s appearance. And then it happens: the app crashes back to the iPad’s homescreen.

Stunned, everyone looks at me – as if it were my fault or as if I could immediately explain or repair it. Despite the entertainment and the involvement by the boys (the reader is involved interactively in parts of the story), the app continues to crash. Is there a Monster at this End of THIS e-Book?!

I do what I can: I close any possible multi-tasking and backgrounding apps.

Crash… crash… crash…

Disappointed, I wait for a day and then stumble across Lex Friedman’s review at Macworld.com. After reading, I figure I’m doomed to have the same failures he and his daughter have encountered.

Finally, right before writing this review, I consult the App Store where the developers and commenters wisely state, ***…restart your iPad after installation***

BANG! It’s like magic, or a Festivus miracle! The app no longer crashes! Of course many of you may know to frequently reboot your iDevice after frequent upgrades or app installations. Occasionally I forget, however, and this has been my lesson learned!

The app itself is amusing and an enjoyable rendition of this Sesame Street classic. As opposed to e-books that are read aloud by a narrator with little animation, in this e-book Grover makes a major showing: he reads the words as they appear in the speech bubbles, and he plays a significantly role in tying the rope, nailing the boards, and laying bricks. The enjoyment factor is multiplied exponentially when the reader gets to “pull” the knots to release the next page, tap the nails to extract them from the wood, and topple the bricks that block the way to the next page! My youngest son has played and replayed this e-book multiple times in just the past two days. This e-book app has made him extremely happy!

As Lex mentioned in the Macworld review, there are some irritations that hopefully will be addressed in future updates: the noticeable delay after turning a page; the awkward and often useless icons in the corners to access menus; a better synchronizing among Grover’s voice, animation, and word appearance. Overall, however, if it passes the family’s primary consumer, my three-year-old, then it’s definitely worth the pocket change!

The Monster at the End of This Book is currently priced at an introductory $0.99 (iTunes link).


The Monster at the End of this Book was purchased by the author and reviewed on iSource.com. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About Us” link.

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  • S. Urista

    This was a family favorite when I was growing up 40 years ago. To think that I know have a version that talks and moves…truly amazing. My 2yr old *loves* this so much I have given up using my iPad while he’s awake.

    Wonderly done and it somehow still retains the charm and humor of the dead-tree version. 5 stars!